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  • Writer's pictureRahul Kolle

4 GREAT ways to make small talk at work

I love making small talk... said no one ever!

Small talk has a reputation for being a waste of time and breath, but these small interactions can actually be the building blocks for deeper connections.

If you’re worried about the return of small talk since everyone will be getting back to work in the coming months, try implementing these four tips for getting comfortable talking to others in professional settings again.

If you'd like to see the video version of this article, you can find it right here -

#1 Focus on Connection over Perfection.

The conversation isn't just about you. It becomes important to take the spotlight off of yourself and on the person you're talking to. Getting caught up in how others perceive you can sabotage your ability to connect with others. Rather than worrying about saying the right thing, I’d suggest easing the pressure on yourself and going into conversations with a sense of curiosity.

If you focus on being genuinely curious about the other person's life, rather than the fear of saying the wrong thing, you'll find it's much easier to have a conversation. It can also be helpful to remember that other people are likely not paying much attention to you because they’re typically worried about themselves.

#2 Ask open-ended questions that elicit responses.

I suggest asking questions that require your conversational partner to think about interesting experiences from their life. If you ask someone how their weekend was, what you get is a yes-no, good-bad, yin-yang kind of answer that tells you nothing about the other person. I'd recommend tweaking the question slightly. For example, instead of asking, “How was your weekend?”, try asking, “What was the most interesting part of your weekend?”

#3 Use your surroundings.

The environment you’re in offers valuable conversation material. If you're struggling with what exactly to say, one technique is to look around for potential conversation starters. For example, if you notice a book on your colleague’s desk, you could say, “That looks interesting. What’s it about?”

You can look at your surroundings and leverage that to have a conversation, but I think the important point here is to be curious about the other person and just focus on forming authentic relationships.

#4 Share something small but personal about yourself.

For example, you could share that you recently switched careers, just took up a new hobby, or moved into a new neighborhood. Anything you feel was a rich and positive experience in your life that has taken place over the last couple of months is a good thing to share because it helps create that authentic conversation. It also gives your conversational partner the opportunity to share something personal about themselves. By offering up a nugget of vulnerability, you’re opening a door for the other person to do the same.

Here's a bonus segment (only because I'm nice). I want to share my 8 favorite questions to ask someone you're meeting for the first time at work. These are questions that are high-value, memorable, and engaging.

  1. What did you think you were going to be growing up?

  2. What’s your favorite thing to do around here on the weekends?

  3. Where was the last place you traveled? What did you do there?

  4. What’s your favorite restaurant that other people don’t tend to know about?

  5. Who is your favorite person to follow on Instagram?

  6. Do you have any podcast suggestions for my commute?

  7. If you were guaranteed to be successful, what job would you want?

  8. How did you become a [job title]?

Go from making small talk to building real, long-lasting relationships at work.

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